Ni Hao From the Rice Paddies of Anding!

2016 May 29 Rice Paddies

Rice paddies of Anding!

As always, another eventful week here in the promised land of Taiwan!

This week I:

Taught the first lesson to a lady who thinks that all Harvard professors are aliens… not even kidding. She said “You know how when you sign up for classes, and you can’t see your professors?? THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE ALIENS” She was dead serious hahhaha the people here crack me up! She also was talking about some dude who built a time machine to go back in time to know Jesus in real life!

I finally ate stinky tofu! Andddddd it tastes exactly like you think rotten tofu would taste like… so SUPER GROSS. But this dude bought it for me, so I couldn’t turn it down. My trainer was dying the whole time! Pictures below!

Stinky tofu May 29 2016

Stinky Tofu is a hard pass

We went up to Anding to meet with this guy who said his dad might have interest in the gospel, and who owns a hot pot stand, and on the way there we literally got lost in the rice paddies! My area is like 99% rural farmland and 1% city, and we mostly stay in that 1% because that’s where all the people are. But we took some cool pictures!

Also we ran into this lady who owns a little market and she gave us some free peanuts, only thing is that they were RAW! I’ve never eaten a raw peanut before, but when you crack them open the peanut is pink, and it has a texture similar to a raw vegetable, also it kinda tasted like a raw snow pea. But we ate a couple each, and they weren’t very good, but because Taiwan ren are super friendly, she gave us a bunch more, and we had to eat them to be polite…… but we went to the hot pot place after and I got a SUPER GOOD hot pot for 80 Kuai, which is slightly less than $3. The food here is so cheap and so good!

2016 May 29 octopus balls

Octopus balls for dinner (ACTUALLY GOOD)

On Saturday we as missionaries got asked to sing at a funeral of some random dude, and we weren’t sure if he was even LDS, let alone Christian, but we went anyways. So we showed up and sang “Nearer My God to Thee” in Chinese, and the whole place was basically like “what are these white people doing here”. But later in the funeral one of the dudes speaking basically taught the Plan of Salvation, so we decided that the dude was LDS after all. The best part about the funeral was that they spoke in “Taiyu” or Taiwanese like 90% of the time, so we pretty much “ting bu dong-ed” the whole thing hahaha.

2016 May 29 Church sign

Yesu Jidu Houqi Shengtu Jiaohui, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

Later that day we set up a time to meet with this way cool dude who loves basketball, and we invited him to come to the church to play ball with us and some other missionaries. Well we got to the church and there was an activity going on in the gym, and we were kinda in a rough spot, but we decided to go to the local school and play. So we got to the school and there were these like 14 year old kids who seriously thought they could ball us up, and we decided to play them in 5v5. WE THREW DOWN ON THOSE LITTLE ASIAN KIDS. Seriously it was 4 missionaries and our investigator verses 5 Taiwanese middle schoolers hahahahahahah. We were literally dunking in their faces and we just destroyed them, but they were still talking so much trash hahaha. At the end we invited all of them to come to church on Friday night when they have like these pick up games, so it actually turned into “basketball contacting”. Basically any missionaries dream haha!

Well that’s about it for my week! I’m about to go to the beach for some P-Day activities with my zone after this email, so I’ll throw some pics about that up next week! I hope you all had a great week, and again I challenge you to look for the little miracles in every day. I know that as I’ve done that, I’ve been able to see just how much our Heavenly Father loves us!

Have a great week! I love you all!

Elder Stroud

 

Advertisements

Another Crazy Week in the Motherland of Taiwan

May 22 temples everywhere

Crazy elaborate temples are EVERYWHERE here

 

This week’s highlights include:

So in Taiwan there are TONS of sketchy “massage” parlors right? Like there is literally at least two on every street, and inside there are definitely not massages being given. Obviously missionaries aren’t allowed to go inside to get massages. SOOO this week we contacted a lady who wanted to hear the gospel and she told us she owned a massage parlor, and that’s where we could meet her for the lesson. So we did just that and ended up teaching a lesson in a brothel basically. So super weird experience.

We got “qinged” (which basically means someone takes you out to dinner for free) at this SUPER nice Thai restaurant, like the bill for 6 of us was about $100 US and a normal dinner here is like $3 US or less per person. But at the end of dinner the lady who took us out asked if it was spicy, and I was like “no not really” and she put a pepper on my plate and told me to eat it. So I ate it and almost threw up from the heat, and everybody at the table was laughing at me because I started to hiccup like crazy and I was crying, but tbh it was worth it for the free food!

We met this super shuai (Chinese for handsome bro basically) 24 year old dude on the street who actually self-contacted me, like he came up and asked if we were the Mormon church and we were like uhhh yeah? And he then proceeded to speak perfect English with us, which is SUPER rare here in Taiwan, and we taught him the first lesson in a 7/11 basically on the spot, and taught him another lesson a few days ago, and he is on date for baptism June 25th! He is such a stud, and I know that the gospel can give him direction in his life that he really needs!

Our area is HUGE like one of the biggest in the mission, which sucks because we have to bike forever every day. Also WE DONT EVEN LIVE IN OUR AREA. So the closest part of our area “Annan” is at least a 30 minute bike ride, and the farthest part “Jiali” is like a 1.5 hour bike ride one way. Well this week we met this lady who set up with us super far away, and WE BIKED 2.5 HOURS ONE WAY TO MEET HER FOR A LESSON. But it’s all for Team Jesus, so that’s ok!  Also, my quads are shredded.

This week I ate pigs blood soup on accident, so that was fun! I was eating this soup and this guy was like, “you know that’s pigs blood right”? And needless to say I stopped eating the soup.

Also my comp Elder Nelson ate an entire chicken, like EVERYTHING like eyeballs and brain and all, so that was fun haha.

May 22 Chicken Head

Elder Nelson and his chicken head dinner.

 

Made stir fry Week 1

I made this stir fry! My Mom would be proud!

ENGLISH CLASS!! So every Wednesday night we have a free English class that we teach as a service to the people and also as a great finding tool! Well the people’s names in class are CRAZY! In Taiwan they literally pick the most random English names ever. Like in the class, one dude’s name is Ferrari, and another dude’s name is literally “Marty McFly” hahahaha. But it’s so fun to teach them stuff!

Last night we were going out to bike up to Annan to do some contacting, and as we were just about to get there, Elder Nelson realized that he didn’t have our phone anymore…….. Soooo we retraced our steps and rode back to Yong Kang, and by a miracle of God we managed to find the phone under the tire of a parked car. Our phone is a super old Nokia, and it already looks like it’s been eaten by a dog multiple times, but it was completely wrecked, like back plate, battery, and phone all in different places. Oh also I forgot to mention it was POURING rain at this point. So our phone got run over by a car and soaked. But we went home and stuck it in a bag of rice last night, and what do you know IT WORKED THIS MORNING. Miracles, let me tell ya.

IMG_0125 (1)

Played some street baseball with some little kids!

I’m still super overwhelmed everyday here… like I pretty much don’t understand 90% of the stuff that people say to me, but i always respond with a “hao” or a “xie xie” to make it look like I know what I’m doing. But I am slowly starting to adjust! The people of Taiwan are SO nice, like they are awesome, and I’m so grateful I get to serve them! The food is still so great! But it does get pretty repetitive eating noodles, rice, or dumplings for every meal!

Grossest thing about Taiwan is definitely the Binglan, or beetle nut. It straight up is “dupin” or an illegal drug in America, but basically it’s this nut that everybody chews, and it makes it look like their mouths are bleeding, and it completely wrecks their teeth and gums, like rots them out. But it apparently gives you a buzz, so that’s why people do it. Literally everybody chews it, and there are shops that exclusively sell it on every street corner. But people chew it when they drive around on their scooters, and they are basically driving high, so everybody here drives like a maniac, and it’s pretty dangerous to bike around if you’re not careful!

Oh, also I got my first haircut here, and I didn’t know what to say to the lady, and she gave me this SUPER Asian haircut with like shaved sides and a ton on top, but she said I looked shuai, so I guess its ok?? Also I got asked out twice this week, but I had to tell the girls I’m a missionary so, no, lol.

Well that’s about all the time I have! I hope y’all had a great week, and I’m super grateful for you keeping me in your prayers! God definitely knows how much I needed that this week! I love you all, and I love Taiwan!!

FINALLY MADE IT TO THE PROMISED LAND OF TAIWAN!!

5-11-16 Arrivals - 1 of 2

Taipei airport arrival

Hello all!!! I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE PROMISED LAND OF TAIWAN!! I honestly don’t even know what’s going on with my life… seriously this all feels like a dream and that there is no way its real… BUT IT IS.

So let me set the scene for you… I am currently sitting in an internet cafe surrounded by like 100 Taiwanese people all going crazy playing League of Legends. The culture is so weird here, lemme tell ya. We are also soaked because we rode our bikes in the pouring rain for like 30 minutes to get here. Also I’m covered in mud because my bike likes to always kick that stuff up, so that’s fun. Oh also by the way I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING HERE. Seriously I “Ting Bu Dong” just about anything anyone says to me, and I can barely read characters, and EVERYTHING IS IN CHARACTERS HERE even this freaking keyboard I’m typing on right now.

DCIM101GOPRO

On our 16 hour flight

So we arrived in Taipei last Wednesday night after flying for like 16 hours BUT WE FINALLY MADE IT!! At the airport we literally had no idea what we were doing because EVERYTHING HERE IS IN CHARACTERS, LITERALLY NO ENGLISH! So we were like little lost sheep going through customs. But we found our way and made it out ok! At the airport there was this security guard who yelled at us in English “Hey no missionaries here!!” and we were freaked out but then he came up to us and told us that he was just messing with us and that he served his mission in Seattle which was way cool! We then proceeded to hop on the bus to the mission home in Taizhong and just completely crashed from exhaustion when we got there. The next day we had a LONG orientation and DAN JONES NIGHT! So basically we were going to that restaurant where they serve the duck brain and fish eyes, and as we walked there we had to street contact people and talk to them and it WAS CRAZY! I actually ended up getting like 2 people info so that was sweet!

5-11-16 Arrivals - 27 of 58

Yes!  I ate the fish eyeball!

 

At dinner I was challenged to eat the fish eye AND I DID. It was disgusting pulling it out like as you reached in with the chopsticks and pulled it out, you could see all the nerves and veins and things that were behind it and STILL ATTACHED. But I put it in my mouth and ate it anyways. Definitely gained some street cred with the mission president for that one, lol. When he asked who wanted to eat the other eye, IT WAS ALREADY GONE, and one of the native elders from Taibei had already eaten it, BECAUSE HE LIKE THEM AND THINKS THEY ARE THE BEST PART. WHAT. From dinner we proceeded to walk to the night market and do the Dan Jones thing which was way awesome!! I just stood up on this stool in the middle of like 1000 people and just shouted out my testimony of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon in Chinese! I wish I had a video because it was way cool. We then proceeded to contact in the night market and I somehow managed to give away 3 Book of Mormons… so that was sick! We went home and passed out again because we were dead lol.

Dan Jones Experience May 12 2016

Dan Jones Experience, Taichung Night Market

 

The next day we got our areas and trainers! So my Trainers name is Elder Nelson and he’s from Texas! He has been out for just over a year and his Chinese is INCREDIBLE! Seriously he saves me like 100% of the time on a daily basis. Such a stud. My area now is Anding! It’s pretty rural actually, and it’s like on the very outskirts of the suburbs of Tainan. It’s weird because our apartment is in Yong Kang, which is like a 45 minute bike ride away from Anding, which kinda sucks, but I’m gonna get freaking ripped riding my bike forever every day so that’s sick! Our apartment looks like a bomb went off in it and it probably the dirtiest place I HAVE EVER BEEN IN. Taiwan is super weird in the fact that, over the years it has slowly become more and more advanced, like you’ll see like Maseratis driving around the streets and stuff, but they never updated their infrastructure and every building is super old from like the 50’s and just dirty and decaying.

Sweet car Week 1

Oh so on the way down from Taizhong we had to take about a little over a 2 hour long train ride, which was AWFUL. So we get on the train and THERE ARE NO SEATS. So we literally sat on the metal floor of this passenger train… It felt like being in a cattle car from the holocaust, and I wanted to throw up. Oh also I’m like freaking out at this point because I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and Taiwan is wrecking me. (Still is)

Cattle Car ride to Tainan

BUT we made it to our area and actually had a lesson planned for that night! So we go to the lesson and it’s this old Taiwanese grandma. I’m thinking “alright I can do this… maybe chime in every once in a while and say some good stuff”. NOPE, NICE TRY ZACH! She spoke a mix of super fast Chinese and Taiwanese, which obviously I can’t understand at all. So I basically got nothing out of that and pretty much just cried all the way home because I’m in this foreign country and I BARELY understand ANYTHING and I’m just getting wrecked.

Fast forward to the next morning, we had finished my personal studies and went out to buy a bike. While we were at a 7 (which is what they call 7/11 here, like they literally say “seven” in English). These two ladies came up to us and asked what we were doing. At this point we were trying to plan a lesson, and had our bibles open to James 1:5. We explained to them what we were doing, and it turned out they were JEHOVAH WITNESSES and they tried to wreck us with some scriptures and trip us up on some doctrine, but in reality they just made themselves look dumb when we flipped everything against them and they didn’t know how to answer HA. 1. I didn’t even know there were Jehovah witnesses here. 2. They literally stalked us to the 7 because I remembered seeing one of them on the street like an hour earlier. 3. This happened on my very first day in the field. AWESOME. Also I didn’t understand a word they said and my comp had to translate.

Oh one of the weird things about Taiwan is that EVERYBODY IS SUPER RACIST. Like there are NO white people here this place is 99.99% Asian, so people never see other races, and when they do they don’t know how to act. Like literally little children who see us always say to their moms with shocked expressions on their faces “Bai Ren” which means white people, and literally EVERYONE stops what they’re doing and stares at us when we walk down the street. Also people will randomly come up to us and ask to take pictures, so that’s way weird. But the people here are so hard to teach the gospel to, so it’s not all easy…

THE FOOD HERE IS INCREDIBLE AND SO CHEAP!!!! Seriously like a huge meal is like 60 Kuai which is like a little less than $2! So we hit up the street vendors and little shops for about every meal. It’s actually cheaper to eat out than it is to stay in and cook, so that’s nice. Also our apartment doesn’t have a table or ANY chairs at all, so there’s really no place to eat there, lol.

Week 1 Food is Incredible

The grossest thing so far is definitely the dirtiness of Taiwan, but also the Stinky Tofu vendors… like they have these fans that blow the scent down the street and it literally smells like a landfill, so that’s always nice.

All in all THIS PLACE IS CRAZY!!! But I’m super overwhelmed and have cried just about every day here… definitely the hardest week of my life. But I know that the Lord will help me, and I will be able to overcome all the challenges. THE CHURCH IS TRUE AND THE WORK IS FLOURISHING IN TAIWAN! Sorry I don’t have a ton of time to write this up, and I hope it gives y’all a little taste of my life! Keep it real in America and don’t take anything for granted… I have been sooooooooooo humbled by the people and their circumstances, this week. But I know it’s good for me.

I love you all! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE SEND LETTERS! I definitely could use some encouragement right now… My new address is

# 498-11, Wu Chuan Road
Taichung, Taichung 404-46
Taiwan

THANK YOU!! HAVE A GREAT WEEK AND DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED

 

Week 8: Last MTC Email EVER!

MTC Week8 Flight plans

Our district with our flight plans!

So as week 8 has come to a close, and my final week here at the MTC has begun, the countdown towards Taiwan has begun! We leave here next Tuesday at 3:50AM, but I couldn’t be more excited to finally get out to the field! We are anxiously counting down the days and hours here!

This week was pretty bland, but definitely necessary to get us ready for the field! Our teachers here have us working on overdrive to prepare our language and teaching skills! We finally got our flight plans which is awesome because that means our Visa’s most likely came through which was a HUGE relief! I feel like my Chinese is pretty good at this point, like I can say just about anything within reason that I want, but the hard part is listening to what people say and understanding their speech. People in Taiwan speak SO DANG FAST! In our Skype TRCs with members in Taiwan we always have to ask them to repeat what they say and try as we try and decipher it. Chinese is HARD! But there were multiple times this week where I ran into missionaries native from Taiwan or China and they told me my Chinese was really good even though I don’t think it is lol. Also on Sunday for the devotional, Elder Horton and I got in line with the ESL kids who get headphone translators, and we snagged some Chinese ones to listen on. I would say we focused about twice as much as we normally do during those things, and we got about half as much out of it lol. But it was cool to test our Chinese listening skills, and I would say I understood about 50% of the talks!
I am definitely about to get WRECKED next week hahahah. When we get to Taiwan on Wednesday night, the mission president and his wife take us to one of the busiest night markets in Taizhong and they have us brand new missionaries “Dan Jones” which basically means we stand on a soapbox in the middle of this super crowded night market and bear testimony of the Book Of Mormon in Chinese to whoever happens to be passing by. So i’m definitely intimidated by that! But i’m looking forward to the challenge and know it will be an awesome experience. Also that night they take us out to dinner and have us eat duck brain and fish eyes, so that will be fun! There are 11 other missionaries who will be flying out with me Tuesday, so we’ll all be in the same boat! Then we have sort of like an orientation at the mission home for a few days, and then we get assigned a new companion, and we head off to our first areas! I’m seriously praying that my first comp over there will be a native speaker, because I have SOOOO much to learn, but with my luck i’ll probably end up with some white kid from Utah who’s been out in the field for a while! Even if that’s the case, in order to become a trainer and be paired with fresh out of the MTC missionaries, you have to have been in the field for at least a year. So either way, I’ll get someone who can speak Chinese pretty well! I’m definitely excited!
Week8 Mission Map

In front of the HUGE mission map.

My life is about to go airborne, both literally and metaphorically! But I couldn’t be more happy or excited to serve the people of Taiwan whom I already love SO much! I’m super pumped y’all can tag along for the ride and experience some of the things i’m about to experience through my weekly emails! These things are about to get LIT in about 7 days. I love you all, and cant thank you enough for your continuous support and love week in and out!
Have an awesome week and be sure to tell your mothers you love them on Sunday! Until next week from TAIWAN!!
Love,
Elder Stroud
Week8 PretzelsElder Jensen from my zone who’s going to Taibei with 30(!!) pretzels in his mouth